Throughout his years in the pool, Noah Bullard has worked on every stroke in hopes of accomplishing one goal: swim at the next level.
Those dreams came to fruition Wednesday, as Bullard committed to Ball State’s swimming and diving program.
“Swimming at the next level has been a big dream of mine,” Bullard said. “It feels good to finally sign the paper and say, ‘I’m doing it.’”
The Cardinals are an NCAA Division I program that competes in the Mid-American Conference.
While he didn’t start out as the strongest swimmer, Bullard put the time in with coach Dave Boggs to become one of the best in Indiana.
This past winter, Bullard advanced to the state meet in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke.
“My whole life I’ve had to make myself into a good swimmer,” Bullard said. “That effort level is something I can bring to the (Ball State) program. I didn’t start quite at the bottom (at Seymour), but I had to learn to swim new events.
“I wasn’t very good at first. I really had to work hard to get better. The most improved part of my swimming is my ability to swim all four strokes, where I only had a couple strokes when I started.”
Bullard said that he had visited the campus before deciding he wanted to swim in college.
The Cardinals are headed by Bob Thomas, the winningest coach in the 70-year history of the men’s program.
Thomas will be in his 37th season when Bullard arrives on campus in August.
“I liked how close and vibrant the campus was,” he said. “Everything was very organized. I met coach Thomas and later found out that he and Dave knew each other. It all just lined up.
“At first, it was me looking at where I will fit in. Ball State has a program, from a time standpoint, I can be a part of. Once I realized that’s where I wanted to go for school, coach Thomas was more than happy to have me.”
Boggs, originally from Muncie, said he has known Thomas for years.
“(Bullard) will be a great teammate,” Boggs said. “He brings a lot of components to Ball State. Coach Thomas isn’t a whole lot different than I am when it comes to philosophies. I think Noah will flourish there.”
Boggs said that Bullards’ times will translate well to the college ranks.
“Based on his times, he can swim there,” he said. “I always tell the athletes who look to swim in college that they will know where they will fit in when they visit. I think he met the guys and could relate with them, and that’s the real selling point.”
While he has worked with Boggs for most his life, Bullard looks forward to train with a new program.
“I’m looking forward to something different,” Bullard said. “I’ve been with Dave for 12 years, and I’m looking forward to a change of pace. Dave has done more for me than anyone, but I’m excited to try something new.”
Bullard plans on double majoring in media studies and broadcast journalism.
“It makes me very proud — like a parent,” Boggs said. “I know my athletes better than any other program can say. I’ve watched him grow up. We usher at church together. These kids become a part of our family in a way. He is going on to bigger and better thing, moving on to the next step in his life.”